Life Alert Medical Alert System Review
Since the medical alert industry is considered to be “essential” during the COVID crisis, monitoring and customer service centers are still open and ready to help. To learn more about how a medical alert device can help keep you or your elderly loved one safe and connected during this pandemic, take a look at our list of essential products for seniors during COVID-19.
How Life Alert Compares to Other Top Medical Alert Systems
Life Alert was included in our rankings of the top 20 medical alert systems because of its wealth of industry experience and reliable devices. With 42 years of experience in the medical alert industry, Life Alert has a reputation of providing lifesaving services. But, when compared to other top medical alert companies Life Alert ranks poorly.
This is in large part due to its 3-year contract policy, as it is the only medical alert company we reviewed that requires users to sign a long-term contract. Life Alert customers may be liable for paying for the entirety of their years-long contract even if they no longer want or need Life Alert’s services, while other companies do not charge cancellation fees and may even offer prorated refunds. Life Alert also charges much higher-than-average one-time startup fees, and does not provide any pricing information on its website.
However, anyone interested in Life Alert can call the company’s customer service line to speak with a knowledgeable agent. In our experience during our research, we found Life Alert phone agents to be very helpful.
Caring.com’s Medical Alert Provider Rankings
Caring.com’s team of experts and researchers ranked the top 20 medical alert providers based on different features, price points, and qualities of the company. Those data points were split into 5 core metrics and 30 sub metrics that were weighted based on importance in determining the overall quality of the companies. Each company, including Life Alert, was scored and ranked based on those metrics and weights.
Pros and Cons of Life Alert Medical Alert Systems
|Devices have impressive battery life||Costs are significantly higher than the industry average|
|No extra cost for cellular in-home system||Mandatory 3-year contract with cancellation fees|
|All devices are fully waterproof||No cost information on website|
Life Alert’s Plans
|In the Home||In the Bathroom||On the Go|
|Monthly Cost||$49||$19 Additional||$19 Additional|
|Type of Device||In-home||In-home||Mobile|
|Battery Life||72-hour backup||Up to 10 years||Up to 10 years|
|Water Resistant||Yes, fully waterproof||Yes, fully waterproof||Yes, fully waterproof|
|Fall Detection||Not available**||Not available**||Not available**|
*If all three levels of protection are selected, then the one-time fee is $198
When doing the research for this Life Alert review, our team discovered that Life Alert’s plans can be somewhat confusing, but here are the basics of what you need to know:
- Life Alert breaks down their plans into three levels of protection: Signature In-Home Service, Bathroom HELP Button, and HELP On the Go with GPS.
- The tiers build on one another (so, if a customer selects either the Bathroom HELP button or HELP On the Go, they will also receive the Signature In-Home Service) and can be designed to fit a person’s lifestyle and budget.
Signature In-Home Medical Alert System
In the Home costs $49 a month, plus a one-time fee of $95. Life Alert offers a quarterly and annual payment plan. If you pay annually, the 12th month is free.
This in-home system may be used with either a landline or cellular connection for no extra fee. It comes with one waterproof and showerproof wearable help pendant, and a base station with a 72-hour backup battery and range of up to 1,000 feet. The pendant battery lasts up to 7 years and does not need charging. Fall detection is not available with any device as Life Alert believes the technology is still inferior and customers become frustrated with the amount of false alarms.
Bathroom HELP Button
This system costs an additional $19 a month with a one-time set-up/programming fee of $1 to be used in conjunction with Life Alert’s Signature Service. Users will also need to pay the $95 one-time fee that In the Home carries.
Another level of Life Alert’s protection, this level includes the Signature In-Home system plus a wall-mounted bathroom HELP button. The HELP button has a built-in two-way speaker and microphone which triggers a call to the monitoring center when pressed, so it functions as an additional personal help button. The wall-mounted HELP button is uniquely designed by Life Alert for shower/tub protection and is completely waterproof. However, it also may be set up anywhere in the home where users would like extra protection – it is not only for bathroom use.
HELP On the Go with GPS
HELP On the Go with GPS is Life Alert’s mobile device. This system costs $19 additionally a month with a one-time set-up/programming fee of $1 when used in conjunction with Life Alert’s Signature Service. If paired with both the in-home and bathroom protection, the cost is an additional $39 and the one-time charge is increased by $102.
HELP On the Go is an upgraded package to Life Alert’s Signature In-Home service. It includes a portable device with a cellular connection and GPS to protect users outside of the home. The mobile unit is waterproof and showerproof, and the battery never needs charging and can last up to 10 years.
Starting Costs and Contracts
All Life Alert customers have to pay a one-time fee of approximately $95. The fee varies slightly based on the level of protection customers choose. This fee includes shipping, in-home installation, and activation. There are no other startup costs.
Life Alert requires customers to sign a three-year contract. Users may only cancel their service prior to the end of their contract for “qualifying circumstances,” such as moving to a nursing home. Otherwise, if a user does choose to end their service in the middle of their contract period, they may be responsible for paying for the remaining months of the contract.
Life Alert operates its own monitoring center. The center is U.S.-based and UL-listed. According to the Life Alert website, the center is “saving a life from catastrophe every 11 minutes.”
Operators spend up to a year training, and always have users’ health history on file to access during an emergency and give to paramedics. They also send notifications to users’ listed contacts to let them know that their loved one placed an emergency call and may need assistance. More importantly, Life Alert stays on the line and manages an emergency from start to finish so their customer never feels alone.
Life Alert Mobile App and Phone Access
Life Alert users may download the company’s mobile app, which allows them to contact the monitoring center directly through their smartphone. If users are in an emergency and have their phone handy, they can press a button in the app to connect with the monitoring center. In certain situations, some seniors may find this option simpler than pressing their personal help button. It is also a good backup in case a user finds themselves in an emergency when they are not wearing their device.
Seniors who do not have a smartphone have the option of calling the monitoring center through a normal cell phone. They will be given the phone number for the center, and can simply dial it into their phone to connect if they are in an emergency situation and are not wearing their help button. Life Alert recommends that users add the number to their speed dial for simplicity.
Who Should Consider Life Alert
Seniors Without a Landline
Life Alert users can choose to connect the In-Home service to a landline, or use a cellular connection for no extra cost. Many medical alert companies charge extra for in-home units with a cellular connection, so the option to use cellular for free keeps things simple for seniors without a landline and can save them several dollars per month.
Seniors Who Are Concerned About Falls in the Bathroom
Along with Life Alert’s Signature In-Home system, subscribers have the option to upgrade their personal protection with the wall-mounted bathroom HELP button, specifically designed for shower/tub use or any area of the home where added protection is needed. This is a great option for seniors who are prone to falls in the bathroom, where accidents are common due to slippery and hard surfaces. No wiring is required, the HELP button does not need to be charged and subscribers can communicate with the emergency center directly through the HELP button. This added feature can ensure users are protected throughout their entire homes as well as in the bathroom.